• Published 25th Aug 2013
  • 12,091 Views, 243 Comments

An Apple A Day - Esle Ynopemos

A collection of thirthy-minute short stories about the rootinest, tootinest farm-filly this side of the Everfree. There'll be a chapter a day for thirty days. I ain't no fancy arithmeticker, but that adds up to a whole month of good, health

  • ...

2: A Night in the Barn [Sad]

((Prompt: How to lose a cutie mark.))

Much like her father, John Appleseed Smith, Green Apple Smith—known as “Granny” ever since the birth of her grandchildren—tended to have an early bedtime. 'Early to bed and early to rise,' he used to say, 'makes a pony healthy, wealthy, and wise.' She lived by that pearl of wisdom, and it had served her well through her many years.

Tonight, though, Granny Smith couldn't sleep.

She laid awake in her bed, staring at the wooden ceiling above her. Moonlight cast the timbers in a soft blue. A gentle breeze tugged and teased at the curtains through the open window. It made the room a little bit too chilly, and it occurred to her that she should probably shut the window, lest she wake up shivering in the morning.

She remained in bed. Her scratchy wool blanket made her itch under her coat. The quiet sounds of nighttime at the farm came to her. Low creaks from the old bones of the farmhouse. Soft mutters from the pig pen outside as the animals stirred in their sleep. Crickets calling out to one another across the fields. If she listened closely, she could hear the breaths of her family drifting in from the hallway. Just three sets of lungs now, not five.

Granny shivered in her bed. She really ought to close that window. There was no sense in catching a cold because she was too stubborn to get out of bed and take a couple steps across her room. She let out a quiet sigh and swung her legs over the side of the bed.

She paused before her hooves touched the floor. Her ears perked up as she heard little hooves making their way down the hallway. The hooves clattered down the stairs, and the front door swung open. Granny Smith got out of bed and looked out the window to catch a flash of orange as it darted out to the barn.

She chewed the inside of her cheek, watching as yellow lantern light spilled out of the barn door. The shadow of her granddaughter moved back and forth across the square of light, accompanied by metallic clangs and rattles—the sound of a filly rummaging through the storage shelves in the barn.

Granny Smith drew a long breath and left her bedroom. She stepped silently down the stairs, careful not to wake her other two grandchildren, and pulled an old shawl over her shoulders before stepping outside.

She found Applejack in the center of the barn floor, grunting in frustration as she spun around, a pair of shears in her mouth. The filly kept trying to move the shears to her flank, but lacked the flexibility to reach, so she ended up looking like a dog trying to chase its tail.

“Applejack, sweetie,” Granny Smith said. She winced at how hoarse and reedy she sounded. Celestia, she was getting old already. “What are you doin' with those sheep shears?”

Applejack froze. A moment of panic crossed her face, giving her the expression of a filly who was caught doing something she wasn't supposed to do, but it was quickly replaced by a sudden hardness in her eyes. She spat the shears out into her forehooves. “I'm gettin' rid of my cutie mark,” she said sullenly.

Granny slowly took another step into the barn. “Now, why would you wanna do a thing like that?”

“'Cause,” Applejack said, staring at the shears. “You said my mark means family.”

Granny Smith nodded. “That it does, hon. Yer an Apple, sure as sugar.”

“Ma an' Pa are gone,” said the filly. She tried to pick up and use the shears with her hooves, meeting with no more success than she'd had with her mouth. Frustrated, she threw the tool at the wall. “Ain't no family no more.”

The old mare's breath caught. Her knees threatened to buckle as memories of yesterday's funeral broke free of the wall she had built around them and flooded her mind. She sank to her haunches, and for a while, she couldn't tell which of them was the crying filly and which was the heartbroken old mare.

But through her blurry tears, she saw a pair of green eyes, wide with shock at seeing their grandmother break down and weep. That gave Granny an anchor to grab onto and haul herself back up. She pushed herself back onto her hooves.

Granny Smith wiped her muzzle, and pulled her shawl off, draping it over Applejack. “You keep them apples, hon,” she said, sniffing. “We're still a family. Don't you ever doubt that.”

Applejack leaned into her, hugging her leg. Tears flowed freely from her eyes. “I miss 'em so much,” she sobbed into her green coat.

Granny wrapped a hoof around her. “I know, dearie. I do too. I do too.”

Curled up with her granddaughter in a pile of hay in the barn, Granny Smith finally found sleep.

Author's Note:

Headcanon for Granny Smith's father: this is his name, because that way, he is both John Smith and Johnny Appleseed. It especially makes sense when you think about what his job was, collecting seeds.